clark newell

My Dev Journey So Far | Clark Newell

My Dev Journey So Far

by Clark Newell

January 5th 2019

Original website home page

Original website home page

TLDR: I sincerely and optimistically look forward to 2019 and beyond. When one strives to challenge themselves mentally and physically every day, great and unexpected things happen. I also remain open to new and interesting pathways and unexpected turns along the journey as they present themselves.

Two days into the new year and it’s time to start fulfilling a New Years resolution, which is to blog every single day about my fitness and developer journeys, with an occasional smattering of life-in-general experiences. At the start of this new year, I find it’s a good time to look back and reflect on where I’ve been in the last 12 months. I may not publish every day, but I would like to work on posts every single day with the intent to publish. This will serve multiple purposes for me:

  • At this juncture, putting “pen to paper” or fingers to keyboard as it were, will dispel doubt and negativity and strengthen my resolve.
  • Blogging about my fitness journey demonstrates my healthy interests outside of coding and a strategy to balance screen-time with rigorous physical activity.
  • Blogging about my dev journey demonstrates my passion for life-long learning, reports on my growth as a developer, and solidifies my own knowledge of the concepts covered. Additionally, I’ve started building a headless wordpress back-end to host my own material, which will feed into my Gatsby.js / React app via wordpress API and GraphQL.

Twelve months ago, I had just barely started the 6-month, full-time web development bootcamp at Galvanize. At this point last year, we had just barely finished a quick brush-over of HTML and CSS before diving deep into JavaScript and its many libraries and frameworks. Far more than now, I was a complete, total newb. I did have some background in website design and maintenance from my job at the University of Utah, but it was nothing compared to what I had bitten off this time around.

You know what they say…bite off more than you can chew. Take risks. Believe in yourself. Gamble on yourself. Take a leap of faith. Jump into the deep end. Go big or go home. Nothing worth having is easy to obtain….

I took all those old adages, bundled them up and took a flying leap from the frying pan right into the fire along with all my remaining assets and resources.

Here is what did happen at bootcamp:

  • I learned JavaScript from the ground up!!!
  • I learned how to create full-stack, decoupled apps with Vue.js and React front-ends and PostgreSQL back-ends featuring CRUD functionality.
  • I learned agile methodology.
  • I learned what it will take to sell yourself in today’s job market.
  • I learned how to work (well) under pressure and make critical decisions when necessary.
  • I learned the (true) meaning of teamwork.
  • I competed in my first hack-a-thon at Dish Network.
  • I gained a family of life-long friends.
  • I learned the art of networking and and the value of regular meetup attendance.
  • I had the college-like experience I never had at University because then I was a non-traditional commuter student with a full-time job.
  • I became a co-organizer of a popular tech meetup group.

Here is what did not happen:

  • While I met every requirement for graduation, I did not graduate with a jaw-dropping portfolio.
  • I took a couple months to travel, re-group and move back to Utah so, I did not hit the ground running.
  • I have not been hired full-time as a developer.

What I could have done better at bootcamp:

  • I could have gone out a little less and taken better care of myself physically by working out more so as to have more energy and mental clarity. (Galvanize has a gorgeous workout space I never utilized, but *disclaimer*, I *did* use their lovely bike-barn often with a commute that was 7 miles each way). And, that was really challenging. Not only were we required to attend dev meetups (which in Denver, often happen in bars), as mentioned, I became an organizer of one. Never before had I been surrounded by so many exciting, brilliant, and out-going people. It’s hard to say whether all that networking was in vain or not since many of us have stayed in touch and continue to support each other on our journeys.

What I have accomplished in the first six months post-graduation:

  • Completed my personal website, which is a progressive web app, using GatsbyJS featuring React, Sass, GraphQL, some light-weight SEO, and a contact form.
  • Secured a personalized domain, deployed my site to, and created a personalized email address.
  • Created consistent cross-platform branding along with logo and business cards.
  • Attended the annual UtahJS conference.
  • Attended several UtahJS meetups.
  • Applied for several dev jobs.
  • Interviewed for two companies, with one (successfully!) completed tech challenge and one (not-so-successful) whiteboarding interview.
  • Received regular consultation from Galvanize career services.
  • Received mentorship and guidance from a local Senior Developer.
  • Completed the entire React course on Udemy.
  • Completed Gatsby 1.0 and 2.0 courses with Level Up Tutorials.
  • Currently working through Headless WordPress with Level Up Tutorials.

Where I may have messed up after bootcamp:

  • I took a “part-time” retail job for the holidays because I was hired on the spot and it was a comfortable and familiar environment.
  • I keep letting myself suffer from imposter syndrome and dropped the ball on a couple of great opportunities that I didn’t feel I was ready for.
  • I feel I made some avoidable mistakes during interviews, especially when white-boarding.

What am I doing about it:

  • The “part-time” job ended up being full-time real quickly due to turnover and holiday demands. If I knew that I was going to end up working full-time in retail, then I would have tried harder to at least get a full-time job in tech support, and started in the industry that way. I am still open to taking this route if needs be. Meanwhile, post-holidays and finances allowing, I’m have requested part-time hours again so I have more time to press forward with development projects and more job applications as needed. All is not in vain there either, my retailer is a major American corporation, that is just now expanding its online presence. At little late to the game, but that could be good for me. Those opportunities, however, are not local, and would require relocation to the other side of the country, which I would be willing to undertake.
  • Every. Single. Day. I spend time memorizing code snippets and how they work, in addition to just coding and learning more about JS frameworks and libraries. I fully realize I can’t just be a copy/paste developer, I also want to deeply understand how and why the code works, and be able to produce code from memory while under pressure.
  • I have followed up on previous opportunities to let people know how my skills are coming along. There’s a good chance I haven’t completely missed the boat as fans and mentors monitor my progress.
  • I’m gearing up to publish regular blog posts and refactor my personal website to include a blog feed and other improved features.

Do I regret investing so much into this venture?

Absolutely not, I am a far better person for it.

Because I didn’t come close to achieving everything I had set out to accomplish in 2018, I had to re-evaluate my entire approach to life, re-assess my desires, re-vamp the way I do everything, and almost completely re-invent myself.

I have since obtained more focus and self-discipline than ever before. Learning to code has unlocked areas of my mind that I wasn’t fully using. My brain works in ways I never imagined possible. I’m more courageous and out-going than I’ve ever been and I’m on the verge of getting in the best physical shape of my life.

I sincerely and optimistically look forward to 2019 and beyond. When one strives to challenge themselves mentally and physically every day, great and unexpected things happen. I also remain open to new and interesting pathways and unexpected turns along the journey as they present themselves.